Two Tips For Helping Unseasoned Travelers
I recently had an experience on a plane where a mother wasn’t very interested in controlling her two children. So much so, that her own spouse reprimanded her from two rows behind to “shut them up.” I offered some assistance with the two little monsters, er, I mean girls, in getting them settled. Once we deplaned, I found that my slight and calculated involvement garnered thanks from fellow passengers sitting in close proximity to the situation. Here are a few common situations that you may want to gently interject yourself into to assist with fellow passengers.
Help Troubled Parents, Don’t Roll Your Eyes at Them
So, back to the mom whose own husband snapped at her…she really wanted to be on vacation already. They were on their way to the Cayman Islands, her 7 year old daughter told me as I discovered she was actually in my seat on a small commuter flight.
To make a long story short, Mom got all of their seats confused and as it turns out the two little girls were in the seats across from me, with mom sitting in front of them. My offers to change seats went ignored. This left the girls relatively unsupervised as mom sat quietly enthralled in her book. The girls could not follow directions, insisting that they stand and hit each other, kick the seats in front of them (mom being one of them who couldn’t have cared less), and reclining their seats all the way back on the passengers seated behind them.
About 20 minutes into the flight, I looked over at the girls and said “you’re going to have to settle down, or the flight attendant will get you in trouble.” They looked at me silently, mom glared back. I told mom “they aren’t wearing their seatbelts and should probably be seated.” She suddenly decided to become involved again and snapped at the girls. This was going nowhere. So, I decided to keep them involved in conversation. They simply wanted attention. I asked where they were going, what they wanted from the drink cart, had they ever flown before, etc. So, during the course of the conversation, when they acted up, it was more natural when I told them “it may not be a good idea to hit your sister like that.” Subtle hints even made them realize they were acting ridiculously. Eventually, they asked me for help with seatbelts and opening pretzel bags. Peace had finally fallen upon our row.
When we got off the plane, the woman sitting behind the girls thanked me and said “if she slammed her chair back into my tray table one more time, I was going to beat her.” Who knows if mom was ignorant, or if she had had enough and had checked out. We’ve all been there. My point being, that parents traveling with kids who aren’t seasoned travelers sometimes find themselves in unknown and overwhelming territory. Lend a hand in these situations. It makes the flight more pleasant for everyone.
Offer Advice in the Security Line
In the movie “Up in the Air”, George Clooney’s character goes through a brief yet elaborate ritual of preparing himself for the security line. I admit I have my own professional traveling ritual similar to his, including a system for stepping out of my shoes. Sadly, choosing a line without kids or folks needing assistance is an exercise in travel profiling in which I often engage.
But sometimes you don’t get a choice which line you have to enter, especially if there is no First Class/Elite Access line. So, instead of getting frustrated, offer some help. If you see someone headed through the metal detector with their shoes still on their feet, say something. It’s a lot less time consuming than having TSA catch it and send them back through. If there is a family with small children, ask if you can help (being cautious of course of handling any of their baggage for security reasons – it’s a no no). Many times parents just need to know you will push their bins through for them while they carry or direct their kids through. Also, keep an eye out for families and elderly who drop things or leave things behind on the belt. This can cut down in your own delays.
So, instead of being frustrated by the inexperienced on your next trip through the airport, relax and lend a hand. It will be much appreciated and make your own trip much less hassled.
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